The creativity & innovation of educational institutions is being challenged in these times. The consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic has required educational leaders to be creative in the way they provide and offer their services, causing an acceleration of digital transformation plans in all education institutions around the world. Access and affordability are also central ingredients for students and learners to be able to reap the benefits of these services. In this article I offer practical advice to education leaders on how to carry out a SWOT analysis to decide whether an e-Learning solution is right for their education institution.
Introduction to e-Learning
The face-to-face teaching approach is still widely recognized as an effective way to facilitate knowledge and skills, and is also a good way to interact with peers and teachers. However, the pandemic has pushed institutions to re-invent the strategies for teaching and learning from key stakeholders in education. Governments, ministries, agencies, schools and universities worldwide have had to consider offering knowledge online via different e-Learning platforms. On one hand, scalability and non-boundaries to engage in constructive online discussions between facilitators and their students, but on the other hand, some challenges such as digital illiteracy, the e-divide and technophobia.
When people refer to e-Learning, they refer to a system of learning that revolves completely around the online experience. Like a live class, students progress through the course in a sequential way and interact to varying degrees with their fellow classmates and their teacher, depending upon how the course has been set up. As education through the internet has become more common, two main formats of e-Learning have developed: Self-paced and online.
This article provides an example SWOT analysis for managers in education institutions to replicate when considering opting for an e-Learning solution.
What is SWOT analysis?
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. In this case, strengths and weaknesses refer to internal digital issues that each facilitator needs to know. If your weaknesses are more than your strengths than you need to dig back into your strategy in order to reduce weaknesses before you implement your e-Learning approach.
Opportunities refer to situations that can be harnessed due to changes in the market (e.g. students with a new set of criteria) and the technology available to better respond to the new needs. Threats include anything that can negatively affect your growth from the outside, for instance, the implementation and smooth running of new digital systems, continued IT training of staff, or lack of formal accreditation of online courses.
SWOT Analysis: How is your education institution scoring?
You should be scoring high on both strengths and opportunities when considering e-Learning implementation. Can your weaknesses and threats be turned into strengths and opportunities? How to effectively build the foundation for an effective e-Learning approach? Self-evaluation is key for all institutions looking to evolve.
How is SWOT useful?
Understanding where an organization is most effective.
Identifying areas of improvement.
Establishing strategic planning and goals.
Assessing feasibility of the new initiative.
Understanding how to implement the new technology.
Examination of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats can be applied when an in-depth evaluation is needed to make changes or improvements. It can help examine components of distance learning that are positive and negative, as well as help with the process of improvement and development of new e-Learning programs and opportunities.
SWOT analysis of e-Learning educational services and intentions must be looked at from 3 different perspectives:
Recent data shows that most universities offer e-Learning degrees or certificates (undergraduate, graduate, doctorate and certificate programs). Universities are offering more types of e-Learning study every year.
Characteristics of the e-Learner
Students are typically older, often have families and full time employment so flexibility is essential.
66% of e-Learners are female
e-Learners are self-directed and motivated.
They often seek education to increase work status, get promotion or to keep current employment.
Characterists of the e-Facilitator
Technologically confident and proficient.
Student-centered teaching style that is inclusive and interactive.
Understanding of e-Learners who are mostly adults and self-directed.
Open to feedback, discussion & continuously engaged in improvement.
Use of authentic learning material and apps (videos, podcasts, VR,).
SWOT Analysis matrix
Recommendations from the EHL digital transformation experience
"The education sector has been a laggard of digital transformation, but Covid-19 turned many organizations’ long-term wish lists into essential needs overnight. In a whirlwind of a year, EHL has seen a huge acceleration of its digitalization. We were more fortunate than many education institutions, in having several digital transformation projects already planned. Our challenge was to realize multi-year projects within weeks.
Was the journey uncertain? Untested? At times, daunting? Certainly. Was it a success? Without a doubt. Faculty, students, management, contractors and many others took countless obstacles in their stride, found solutions, adapted to change, and shifted EHL firmly into the digital age. While our digitalization process continues, we are now working with education institutions around the world to share ideas, learning and insights from our own journey, to make theirs easier. Digital education is the future and we want to see all students benefit – at EHL and beyond."